I hear it all the time, “Who has the best conference in college football?” SEC? Big 10? ACC? What about the Pac-12? Very rarely are you going to hear the words “Big 12” coming out of someone’s mouth in that conversation. Whether you do it or not, there are plenty of folks out there who love to bash the Big 12 conference (cough, Paul Finebaum, cough). It wasn’t pretty, but Oklahoma State won the Camping World Bowl 30-21 over Virginia Tech, making the Big 12 3-2 in bowl games thus far. So let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Pokes’ win in Orlando.
Red Zone Defense
There were two opportunities inside the red zone that Virginia Tech totally botched. There was the 18-play drive that ended with an RPO by Josh Jackson in which Ramon Richards forced a fumble at the 1-yard line and the Pokes recovered to give Oklahoma State the ball and crush the Hokies’ momentum. Virginia Tech was one yard away from taking a commanding 14-3 lead. Instead, it was Oklahoma State’s ball.
Then there was the 4th and 8 from the Oklahoma State 11-yard line. Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson was sacked by Jordan Brailford and DeQuinton Osborne for a loss of 16 yards. Virginia Tech figured it needed a touchdown against a high-flying offense, but in hindsight, a field goal might have done them just fine.
Then on the very next drive, while it wasn’t technically the red zone, it was just outside with the Hokies at the Cowboys’ 29-yard line and Josh Jackson getting picked off by Darius Curry, who returned it for 30 yards.
All in all, Oklahoma State didn’t play very well on defense (more on that later), but it did make plays when it mattered most in the red zone.
Capping off a win for this senior group
Even though I don’t believe the Pokes played all that well on either side of the ball, they got a win for this group of seniors, that some critics may say didn’t live up to its expectations, but still had a helluva run. They end their careers with three-straight 10-win seasons and a 3-1 mark in bowl games. Oklahoma State is one of just nine programs in the country to win 10 games at least six times since 2010. The others? Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford, Clemson, Wisconsin, Boise State and Florida State. Damn good company.
Hill had 23 carries for 120 yards, for 5.2 yards per carry and a touchdown. He bailed this team out several times, including the 31-yard run that, more or less, sealed the win, even though it was an awful play call (more on that later). With so many seniors leaving this team, it’s going to be fun watching Hill in 2018 and also see him become the leader of this offense.
Run instead of pass, pass instead of run. Kick when supposed to go for it and go for it when supposed to kick it. Not much made sense from a coaching perspective in this game. Why not go for it on 4th and 1 early in the first quarter when you are supposed to have the most explosive offense in the country? Put your foot down and show your superiority and crush the spirits of Virginia Tech early on. Then in the 4th quarter with a few minutes left and a field goal attempt that would’ve been somewhere around 45 yards, Gundy decides to go for it on a 4th and 6. A made field goal by Matt Amendola (who was 5 of 7 from 40-49 yards) would’ve put Oklahoma State up 16 points, two TD’s plus two XP’s, instead of just 13 points. There was the draw play with Justice Hill on 3rd and 11 that ironically sealed the game, but I was cursing Mike Yurcich the moment I noticed what the play call was. It worked, but I still didn’t care for it.
So you look at the box score and wonder why? They picked off Josh Jackson twice and held him to less than 200 yards passing. But there were a couple of untimely plays downfield that didn’t make A.J. Green or Ramon Richards look good. On the first drive of the game for the Hokies, which resulted in a touchdown, Green mistimed his jump and coverage against Henri Murphy on a 3rd and 9, resulting in a gain of 24 yards. Frankly, if Jackson was a little more accurate on some of his passes, the Hokies would’ve had a handful more big plays, which would’ve turned this game around in favor of Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech, who we knew wanted to run, run and run some more, racked up 248 rushing yards against Oklahoma State for a very respectable 5.0 yards per carry. Deshawn McClease, Steven Peoples and Josh Jackson generally had their way on the ground against an Oklahoma State run defense that has been weak for most of the season.
The awful Gatorade bath for Mike Gundy
This was probably an appropriate way to cap off a game Oklahoma State won, but got outplayed in. A horrendous Gatorade bath for Mike Gundy that ended up soaking Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente just as much, if not more, than Gundy.
Oh my god the dual Gatorade bath for Mike Gundy and Justin Fuente pic.twitter.com/K68TBYkC2G
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) December 29, 2017
Ouch. I mean really guys. Have you never done a Gatorade bath before?! Total amateur hour from the Pokes!